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No muskets for British town Christmas

UPI News Service, 11/28/2008 

The deputy mayor of Wimborne, England, said he has ended the town's 400-year-old tradition of firing muskets into the air to celebrate the coming of Christmas.

Deputy Mayor John Burden said he made the decision to bar the town's reenactment group, known as the Militia, from firing their muskets into the air to celebrate the lighting of the town Christmas tree because the noise could frighten children, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Burden, 62, said Mayor Robin Cook, who is on vacation, gave him permission to make a decision on the musket issue.

"I cannot speak for the mayor on what he would do, but before he went away he told me the decision on whether to have muskets was up to me," the deputy mayor said. "Last year there were children who were very upset and crying for some time after the muskets were fired."

Militia member Chris Brown said ending the musket firing tradition "because it might scare children is very sad and almost a bit daft."

"We understand the loud shots can make children jump but we give plenty of notice," he said. "Mollycoddling children will not help them cope with the unexpected, which might not necessarily be in their best interest in the long run."

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Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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